What is a pre-warrant hearing?
Imagine one day you go to the mailbox and there is a notice that a person you know has requested you be arrested. You thought only a police officer could arrest someone so what is this about? What is a pre-warrant hearing?
In Georgia, a civilian (non police officer) can request that a Magistrate Judge issue an arrest warrant. Such warrants are sometimes called “civilian warrants”. Typically, the process starts by the petitioner going to the Magistrate Court located in the county where the offense was alleged to have occurred and filling out a simple application. In the warrant application the petitioner will be asked to give a brief narrative of who they want arrested and why. The petitioner must also pay a small application fee.
A Magistrate Judge will then review the application and schedule a pre-warrant hearing. The other party (the accused) should then receive notice of the pre-warrant hearing by mail. At the pre-warrant hearing, the Judge will listen to both sides and either issue a warrant or dismiss the application. If the Judge issues a warrant, the accused will be arrested after the hearing or be allowed to turn themselves into the jail at a predestinated time.
I receive many calls about pre-warrant hearings. Most people who get a notice for a prewarrant hearing have never heard of them. The first questions people ask is whether they should bring an attorney to a pre-warrant hearing. The answer to that question is that since you can be arrested after the hearing it is advisable to hire an attorney! Furthermore, if you do not hire an attorney you will have to speak at the hearing and thereby risk incriminating yourself.
Our office is willing and ready to represent you in a pre-warrant hearing. If you receive a notice in the mail, please do not hesitate to call us to set up a free consultation.